3 Ways to Redefine Failure


"Why the obsession with failure Colm? Stop being such a downer all the time!"

Well, let me explain and give 3 ways we can claim success this New Year.

Where everybody knows your name…

No, not at Cheers, but in the #fail community. I’ve gotten pretty familiar with failure and learned a few things along the way. Wisdom is a gift of the Holy Spirit. I’m blessed to think God has given me more than I deserve. But wisdom is also gleaned from experience. I believe it folly not to share through the experiences I’ve had to help others and better myself through them.

Sometimes pride stops us from sharing our moments of weakness and inadequacy. I believe the opposite is true. It is in those moments I find strength. I’m better for failing. Some of my greatest accomplishments come from failing before.

Get over ourselves. Get on our knees.

I simply love the old school term “Fear of the Lord”. It is my favourite thing to teach about for confirmation. The fine line between complete joy and absolute terror is surprisingly thin. The common element is the experience that I’m overwhelmed by something much bigger than I. But to be overwhelmed by God’s grace, mercy, love … that is an experience worth choosing over fear, hopelessness, and doubt.

When I search for that wonder and awe in my life, it drives me to my knees. When all I can do is get lost staring at the beauty of my bride and my children I’m a better youth ministry leader. I’m a better dad. I’m a better disciple.

Redefine failure.

Below are two of my favourite quotes. The third is much less famous.

If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly. – GK Chesterton

Be who you are, and be it well – St. Francis de Sales

Fail miserably for Christ – A not as holy or famous guy from Canada

Chesterton wasn’t giving excuses for not succeeding. He was defending hobbies and the gift of being an amateur in the sense of doing something out of love. Out of a calling and being placed with opportunity and responsibility – like a new parent. St. Francis is simply calling us to be the saints we’re meant to be. Use the gifts we’ve been given. Be a builder of God’s kingdom here on earth.

My summary requires a redefining of failure. Let’s avoid sins of omission, of inaction and paralysis. I’m not saying go slap someone in the face instead (sin of commission). But let’s not sit on the sidelines. God has called us into the game. Hustle, make a play, and risk falling flat on our face.

I’ve committed to being healthier in 2015 by developing a discipline of exercising 25 min/day (Thanks Clay for the inspiration!) I’m really not very fit. My first burp-pee was more like a forced nap on the floor. It was embarrassing. But I got up, and I’m getting better.

So, let’s choose to fail by action this year in our lives and our work. Don’t let that great idea stay in your head. Try that crazy game. Reach out to that teen you think you have no way of connecting with. Risk failure so that you can accomplish more than you possibly ever could have imagined. Let God surprise you in your efforts. Let this be the #YearOfFailure

Here’s 3 ways to ensure it happens:

1. Pray for an opportunity to be courageous.

No surprise here. Before I can conquer failure, before I conquer fear, before I conquer to do lists; I must conquer myself. To that end, let’s get on our knees more than ever this year. Then let’s dive into those opportunities with courage and abandon. I want to pray for you, let me know your intentions and I will!

2. Be ridiculous, then do it again. (be safe & holy)

Some safe advice here would be to start small when it comes to making changes or starting something new. I don’t think anyone will peg me as safe. The key is to overcome shame and fear. We need to build a habit of courage and break down these walls of insecurity and paralysis. The quickest way is to convince ourselves that we are not the sum of our failures. That is best done by giving ourselves experience (and prayer). We need to differentiate our results from our efforts, our success from our worth. Saint Pope John Paul II said,

We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son.”  – Closing Homily, WYD 2002

3. #YearOfFailure

This post was supposed to be out January 1st. That would of made a lot of sense. But here I am two weeks late. At least I didn’t leave it in my head. God bless the #YearOfFailure, I’m on a roll! Join me with the hashtag to share our journey! Do whatever you want, but be accountable in some manner. Commit to something as a planning team, tell your spouse, prayer group, text your buddy… and not just when things go right. Track your progress, you’ll be glad you did.

I wish you a blessed #YearOfFailure



Colm Leyne

Colm Leyne is a Christian Father, Husband, & Best Uncle Ever.

In Youth Ministry for 16 years, now as Coordinator for Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon. He strives to speak & write things that others find uplifting and empowering.

Colm Leyne

Colm Leyne is a Christian Father, Husband, & Best Uncle Ever.

In Youth Ministry for 16 years, now as Coordinator for Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon. He strives to speak & write things that others find uplifting and empowering.

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